tonight on "nightline," cashing in on cute? the most viral videos on the internet. >> is this real life? >> from david after dentist to charlie bit my finger, these videos can bring in big money. but are parents going too far? when junior becomes an internet star. the lost eden. majestic elephant herds. exotic species of every stripe. we cross the globe to a remote preserve and find and audacious experiment to restore paradise. and sofia on fire. tonight, "modern family" star see fee ya vergara tells us where her tv character comes from and what she leaves
offscreen. >> announcer: from the global resources of abc news, with terry moran, cynthia mcfadden and bill weir in new york city, this is "nightline," december 28th, 2011. >> good evening, i'm terry moran. well, viral internet videos make for good entertainment. some of the most popular of them feature kids caught on camera in moments of truly towering misconduct or cuteness or both. but what many people don't realize and some parents have figured out, is that it's possible to capitalize on all those videos and that may change the picture. here's abc's matt gutman. >> reporter: we're all guilty of it. flicking off that spreadsheet or word document to wash the deliciously funny. often touching. >> ouch, charlie! >> reporter: sometimes wonderfully irreverent.
♪ the silliness of children starring in viral youtube videos. david is likely the undisputed king of monetizing his 7-year-old son's trippy few minutes of post-dental delirium. >> why is this happening to me? >> reporter: he won't say exactly how much, but after 100 million views, he's made several hundred thousands dollars. he has created a website called david after dentist.com, emblazoned t-shirts, the copy right is on the way. there are bumper stickers you can buy and new videos to watch. it reminds me of "spaceballs." you ever see that movie? >> yeah, sure. >> reporter: but was it all too much too soon? >> from day one to day five, we're at 4 million. and we're like, what is the reaction? are people making fun of him? once we figured out that everybody thought david was cool and this was very funny and they were laughing with me, not at him, then we were fine with us.
>> reporter: one psychologist we talked to questioned the entire notion of exposing your child to the world via youtube videos. >> what you think may be something that's cutesy or very positive or lots of fun can come back and haunt your child or you. >> reporter: and he's caught some serious flak. >> reporter did an editorial saying department of family services should take david away. that stung pretty bad. >> reporter: he's since made enough to help them move closer to little david mother's work, keep him and his brother in private school and help pay other bills. you see in the internet world, you can become a so-called youtube partner, if your videos garner enough interest. >> we have a special system that looks at how quickly something is becoming popular and it's an automated system that will in many cases contact the user automatically and offer them an opportunity to run ads. once you do that, that's when you start, you know, recovering money from that.
>> reporter: it's a rough calculation, but you can earn about a dollar for each 1,000 youtube hits. small change, unless you are someone like david, with more than 100 million hits or the this family, whose devilishly funny video reportedly earned them more than $150,000 barely trying. there are other perks, as well. these girls, cousin sophia grace and rosie grace first gained attention for a video of them singing nicki minaj's "super bass." suddenly, they were on ellen ge jenless, even min minaj herself. and david, now 10, has seen a lot of the world. you got to do cool things because of the video. >> yeah, i have -- i've gotten to go to, like, los angeles and brazil. >> reporter: are these trademarked? >> working on that. >> reporter: he may be one of
the few for bhom this is a near full-time vocation, but certainly not the only parent to rake in the cash from his son's fame. >> there are those parents who are about making money any way they can, even if it means exploiting their children on the net, though in their minds, they're not doing anything wrong. >> reporter: but some parents produce videos with the express intent of turning their child into a star. take rebecca black, whose mom spent $4,000 to produce and write the song "friday." ♪ friday friday >> reporter: it went viral. and made her famous. but not always in a good way. many called the song the worst of all time and received several death threats. >> you suck at singing, i hope you go die and i think you should get an eating disorder because that will make you prettier. >> reporter: little david never encountered anything like that, but wasn't always all positive. >> sure there was some negative, you know, comments and things like that, but once the genie
was out of the bottle, so to speak, we just figured, we better embrace it. >> reporter: and why not? it just might have gone viral enough to put little david through college. >> why is this happening to me? >> reporter: i'm matt gutman for "nightline" in orlando. >> it is real life, david. thanks to matt for that. just ahead, we'll take you overseas. a wild landscape of awe-inspiring beauty, and the humans inspired to help bring it back. ♪ [ male announcer ] how could switchgrass in argentina, change engineering in dubai, aluminum production in south africa, and the aerospace industry in the u.s.? at t. rowe price, we understand the connections of a complex, global economy. it's just one reason over 75% of our mutual funds beat their 10-year lipper average. t. rowe price. invest with confidence.
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>> announcer: "nightline" continues from new york city with terry moran. >> the record of natural history is full of wars between the exotic species of this earth and our planet's most voracious omnivore. us, humans. in a tragic number of these cases, our dominion over other species has meant their doom. but in a remote corner of africa where the lives of both humans and animals are at stake, each may be able to save the other. here's my co-anchor bill weir. >> oh this is nice you guys. nice, nice, nice. >> reporter: it's a shot guys like bob poole live for. the kind of image that evokes
the very name, national geographic. but few will ever fully appreciate the series of minor miracles this moment represents. first, we have to find bob. deep in mozambique. by trusting a bush pilot who frankly looks like he should be behind the stick of a video game. how old are you? >> i am 21. >> reporter: you're 21? okay. i trust you. we eventually dip into the 115-degree heat, and after making sure there are no baboons or warthogs on the runway, touch down in the national park. bob is there. good to meet you, bob. anxious to get us into the bush before sunset. and eager to tell of this place that's become one of the most audacious experiments in africa. >> here is a nice scene. these -- >> reporter: oh. >> the babies are everywhere. i mean, look, everything has a baby now. it's just -- it's nuts. >> reporter: he's spent most of his life like this. one hand on the wheel or camera,
eyes peeled for movement. but this place has really honed his game-spotting skills because the wildlife here was almost wiped away entirely. 15 years of civil war made this the lost eden. while around 1 million people lost their lives, soldiers also shot almost every creature that moved. eat the meat or sell the ivory. for there was once tens of thousands of buffalo. after the war, they could find only 15. only five zebras. only six lions. and when bob arrived, he could find only one species that truly thrived. crocodiles. >> you see it's just all crocodiles. and they were all laying on this beach. somehow they sensed we were coming. >> reporter: and these guys survived the war by -- >> yeah. >> reporter: staying under water. essentially. right? >> exactly. when they key on movement, when they see anything move, they
go into the water. >> reporter: meanwhile, it is the biggest creatures that carry the most visible toll. of the 2,200 elephants that once roamed here, only 300 remain. and most of them are emotional wrecks. >> they watch their entire families gunned down, you know? killed. >> reporter: and it's true, an elephant never forgets, right? >> exactly. elephants don't forget. so, there are some elephants, elephants here are wary of people. they are -- they tend to be -- they don't trust people. >> reporter: for proof, we don't have to look any farther than the hood of bob's range rover. it happened the day before we arrived. >> she stood right here and just went -- bam, she head butted the car. >> reporter: so in addition to trying to slowly win the hearts and minds of these surviving elephants, they also hatch a risky mission to introduce new ones from outside. you see, kruger national park in south africa has the opposite problem.
too many elephants. so, a team goes there with choppers and tranquilizer darts. they bring down a half dozen middle-aged bulls. being sure to keep their flaccid trunks open so they don't suffocate. and then pack them up for an unprecedented 800-mile journey to a new home. it's all part of a grand plan hatched by greg carr, who made a fortune inventing voicemail. he's pledged $40 million over 20 years to save this lost eden and create a thriving eco-tourism economy for the impoverished locals. >> if those people don't have enough to eat, of course they're going to come in the park and hunt animals. who wouldn't? and so, we need to help them with their agriculture, with their economic development so we can try to replace the animals or we'll lose them again. >> reporter: but elephant relocation is extremely tricky. because of that long memory, th wandering off. after scaring a few villages,
one had to be tranquilized again, and this time, did not survive. >> the park has a lot of problems, you know, that have to be constantly -- poaching is really big, it's encroachment on the outside. you know, it's -- it's getting people to believe in the place and all this. but it's -- it's succeeding. it's really winning. and it's not that often in africa, especially, that you have real conservation that's succeeding like that. >> reporter: you can actually see the fruit of your labor, right? >> yeah, it's just so exciting. it's hard, i mean, africa's huge, and there's a lot of country, where elephants roam, typically, there isn't a lot of people. so, it's a very difficult battle. i don't know what's going to happen. it's not pretty. but i will say, here, at least temporarily, it's looking pretty, like a great place to be an elephant.
>> "africa's lost eden" airs tomorrow on nat geo wild. looks great. next up, "modern family" star sofia vergara on life in the spotlight and behind the scenes. ♪ [ male announcer ] when you're a true fan... [ exhales ] ...there are no sick days. [ crowd cheering, screaming ] vicks dayquil. defeats 5 cold & flu symptoms.
she's the red-hot star of the hit sitcom "modern family" here on abc. she's got two new movies out this holiday season, and tonight, sofia vergara talks to my co-anchor cynthia mcfadden for our series "it was a very good year for." >> i know i have an accent, but people understand me just fine. >> reporter: it was a role written just for her. >> i called your secretary and asked her to order you a box of baby the cheeses. >> reporter: sofia vergara plays gloria on "modern family." >> it's all very good. >> reporter: we got to spend some time with her backstage and wondered just how close she is to her character. >> it has a spider. she's colombian, she has an accent, she has a kid from a previous marriage. she's loud. >> reporter: she has a hot temper. but in real life, vergara is more than just that hot latin mother she plays on television. she's a cover girl and a
businesswoman, with her own production company. >> i'm sofia vergara and i'm not afraid to work with what i've got. >> reporter: and a new line of women's clothes at kmart. it's meant to be affordable and fit women with curves. even if your curves aren't as good as her curves. >> my collection is at kmart. >> reporter: so, are you wearing your line right now? this is it? >> everything. >> reporter: the jewelry? >> the jewelry, earrings, everything, the jeans. i mean -- >> reporter: all right, so, do a little twirl for me. let's see. yeah, uh-huh. if we could all look like that in jeans it would be a different thing. >> people look like this in the jeans. 29 bucks and you look like a million dollars. >> reporter: at 39, vergara was not an overnight success. she's been working hard at making it for 22 years. a natural blond, she grew up in colombia. she loved playing with barbie dolls and hoped one day that she would have that barbie figure, too. you were skinny, too, as a little girl.
>> yeah. >> reporter: there was a nickname. >> yeah, toothpick. >> reporter: she married young, at age 18 and had her one and only son, manolo, the following year. >> having him made me always, like, not go crazy with the fame or anything. i was always more concerned about being a good mother and working to make money, not just, you know, to be famous and crazy. >> reporter: so, the mothering that we see you do as gloria -- >> now, promise me that you will never, ever do anything like this again. >> i promise. >> okay. >> because that's not the way i raised you. >> reporter: is that the kind of mother you were? >> i think she's amazing. i mean, i think all women should be a little bit more like gloria. i try to learn from her, actually. i wish i was more like her. >> reporter: since divorcing her first husband, she's been tied to some of hollywood's leading men. most famously, tom cruise. but these days she's in love with a man outside the hollywood circle. 36-year-old nick lobe, a wealthy businessman from florida.
you're going to turn 40 this year. >> ah. yes. >> reporter: have you thought about more children? >> um -- yeah, of course, because of him, he's -- i stay with him, he's young -- he's younger than me, he's 36. and he's never had kids, so -- i'm sure he's going to put pressure on me. oh my lord. >> reporter: vergara has perfected the art of not taking herself too seriously. only you could have done that. >> special latin technique. >> reporter: it was like a mermaid. she told me at this event, she even walked down the red carpet with her shoes on the wrong feet. you've got your feet in the right shoes now? >> yeah, the right is on the right and the left is on the left. i'm ready. >> reporter: very cute. the night we were with her, everything seemed to be in just the right place. >> sofia vergara. than f